Medford, Ore. — A formal lawsuit has been filed against OnTrack, it’s board, and members of the drug treatment program’s leadership. NBC5 News was the first to tell you about the suit in December, when a notice was sent to the agency announcing the groups’ intent to sue. Monday, that paperwork was filed, and former employees are seeking nearly $8-million dollars in damages.
“People who are doing the wrong thing and violating the law, they have to stand responsible, they must be accountable,” attorney Clayton Lance explains, “this agency will be held accountable.”
Attorney Clayton Lance is hoping the defendants in the case will be held accountable to the tune of $7.87-million dollars, for more than a half dozen violations including professional negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and whistleblower retaliation.
“It was negative, it was abusive, it was hostile,” Lance says of the work environment at OnTrack, “it was every word that you can think of from the thesaurus that talks about negative behavior, that’s what happened.”
The plaintiffs in the case are 5 former OnTrack employees. The defendants are OnTrack, it’s board, it’s current interim executive directors Tonia Morro and Rick Nagel, as well as former executive director Rita Sullivan.
According to the suit, employees were unable to take time off for cancer treatments or family emergencies, and if they spoke up they were retaliated against.
“The language used by Rita Sullivan was abhorrent,” Lance says.
The plaintiffs claim Sullivan yelled, cursed and threatened them. One plaintiff claims Sullivan told her, she would kill her “expletive kid”. The suit goes on to say employees were overworked, underpaid, and taken advantage of, sometimes being scheduled on-call 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.
“You might have worked 60 hours or 70 hours, but the eraser,” Lance explains, “they would erase it out.”
The documents also outline some of the issues found during state inspections that have shuttered some of OnTrack’s programs.
“They put young children, small little children, in feces, maggot filled homes,” Lance says, “they did that knowingly, they did that intentionally, they did that because they didn’t want to spend the money on maintenance.”
Lance says many of those issues were only brought to light because his clients came forward. And while he says his clients are prepared for the backlash that may come as a result of the lawsuit, he says they are equally prepared to back it up.
“They are whistleblowers,” Lance says, “they did the right thing, at the right time, for the absolute right reason.”
“They have integrity, they have credibility and they are reliable and here’s the best thing: the records back them up. The emails, the texts, the phone records, the billing records,” Lance says, “Attack my people? Start to figure out what to do with the paperwork that supports them being truthful and honest.”
In addition to the financial damages, the plaintiffs are asking for an apology from OnTrack, and the individuals named in the lawsuit.
NBC5 News reached out to OnTrack and it’s leadership for response to the suit, we have yet to hear back.
Executive Producer Kristin Hosfelt anchors NBC5 News weeknights at 5 and 6. Originally from the Bay Area, Kristin earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Broadcast Journalism from San Jose State University.
She came to KOBI-TV/NBC5 from Bangor, Maine where she was the evening news anchor. Kristin has won multiple journalism awards including Best Feature Reporting in the State of Maine. In 2017, her investigation on lead pipes in Medford’s water system was named Best News Series by the Oregon Association of Broadcasters.
When Kristin is not sharing the news, she’s traveling, hunting down the best burrito, or buried in a Jodi Picoult novel. She’s also a Green Bay Packers shareholder; if you see her out and about she’d be happy to tell you the story of how a California girl became a cheesehead.